Here's who some of them are: Cummins Engine, Eli Lilly, Nike, General Mills, Apple, General Electric and Google; and here's what they have in common: They've put up serious sums of money to fight state bans on same-sex marriage and/or joined up with about 100 companies in a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court opposing California's ban last year. There's a thoughtful piece about this development in The American Conservative, which you can read here. TAC, by the way is a great collection of true conservative thought, "true conservative" meaning a belief that the essence of freedom is personal liberty and the inherent right of people to live their lives the way they see fit--including the right to consider themselves married whether some folks like it or not. Why this is even a fight in a country that since day one has been dedicated to the principle that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a continuing mystery to me as I watch the political process regarding same-sex marriage unfolding in Pierre. That those rights are endowed by their "Creator" seems to be an overlooked point by those whose abhorrence to same-sex marriage has a religious basis.
South Dakota legislators troubled by the existence of same-sex marriage seem to be glibly overlooking the effect of their homophobic attitudes on South Dakota's public persona. This should concern our more practicality-oriented elected officials, particularly Governor Daugaard, whose State of the State speech last week was dripping with plans for increased economic development. There's a reason that, say, Cummins Inc. (one the world's largest manufacturers of diesel engines) and the drug giant Eli Lilly put up $100k each in a fight against a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Indiana. Marya Rose, the chief administrator at Cummins, puts it this way: “If we have a climate in our state that makes people feel unwelcome in
any way, we think that’s bad for Cummins, and we think that’s bad for
business." You can read more about this at the Bloomberg site here.
As a businessman myself, I know that public relations are the essence of good marketing. I'm also pretty confident that many of the businesses I cite or that can be found in the links above don't particularly have a position on same-sex marriage, per se. They're more interested in functioning in states and communities that provide them with the widest and deepest customer base and labor pool. Selectively excluding (or at least making feel unwelcome) considerable segments of the population only limits a business's capacity to operate and make money. Given that estimates of the size of the homosexual population in this country generally range between 10% and 20% (a Smithsonian magazine report from the National Bureau of Economic Research last October suggests 20%--a study you can find here), cutting that many people out of a sphere of economic activity like the state of South Dakota is a serious detriment to the state's ability to compete and grow economically. Fact is, it's just plain bad business. South Dakota's elected officials should consider whether this is a bad time in the development of the U.S. for our state to be on the wrong side of history.